Her love of antiques transcends multiple decades. Since the late 1960s on, when her interest in antiques was fostered by the purchase of inexpensive plates bought in a London junk shop, Miller has become a world-renowned expert in antiques, interiors and all things connected.
Her most recent effort is Influential Styles: From Baroque to Bauhaus—Inspiration for Today’s Interiors, and it’s beautifully executed. Layouts in the book are divine; photographs, shot by renowned photographer Simon Upton, are crisp, bright and well set-up; and the typography is to die for.
The book offers four chapters: Neoclassical (including Early, Grand and Simple), Decorative (including Walls, Eclecticism and Exotic), Country (including Grand and Rustic) and Modern (including Minimalism, Classic Modern-ism and the decades of the 1960s and 1970s). Each chapter and sub-chapter presents examples of each of these “influential” styles; then offers photographs to bolster these assertions.
The writing is straightforward; certainly not clever—but Miller states the facts, offers an example and moves on. It’s a terribly good tutorial. A nice touch is the inclusion of plain color swatches to illustrate the predominant colors of each style.
Her selections for emphasis in this book are due to her contention that each style has been proven cyclical—and enduring. Her choices are right on, showing timeless appeal in a fresh and relevant manner.
I do have quarrels with the book in some instances. For example, some of the writing is imbued with a certain snobbish implication. Miller finds it, for instance, “ironic” that rural poor created the country interior design classics, as if to say that “poor” and “rural” have no imagination.
Another problematic area is the Modern Minimalism section. While the information is viable, a certain amount of credibility is lost in the pictorial examples. While beautifully photographed, there are too many taken of the same interior. You will see designer Poal Kjaeholm’s main living room in Denmark, for example, at least five times shot from different angles, as well as his PK9 chair three times. Additional pieces of Kjaeholm’s furniture—tables and chaises—are also shown. Additionally, Walter Gropius’ daughter’s bedroom is exhibited twice. Considering there are only 37 photos to illustrate this movement, it seems largely one-note.
Other sections fare better, in particular, Neoclassicism, with its wealth of gorgeous photographic examples, cacophony of color and intelligent narration.
A coffee table book at the very least; an informative and worthwhile book at its best, Influential Styles deserves a look.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis, MN. She has more than eight years’ experience covering trends, window treatments and interior fashions, and is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information at email@example.com.